Saturday, June 2, 2018

Lovely Leafy London

May Bank Holiday saw two happy travellers hand in hand through the streets of London, well Greenwich to be precise. And what a glorious weekend it was. Armed with a bottle of water, and suncream, we headed for Hampstead Heath by bus from Beckenham. Of course we sat on the front seat at the top of the double decker so as to get a real tourist eye view, tree top level. And after a quick jacket potato at a very agreeable pavement cafe we strolled over the heath towards the entrance to Greenwich Park. Our mission was to locate the memorial bench of John Fisher, who was my sister's brother in law. He was an artist/designer who worked and lived in Hampstead.

 As you see, we found the bench and stayed a while in quiet contemplation.

The commemorative bench is situated in a lovely position overlooking a small pond, and surrounded by mature trees. It was easy to locate just before the entrance to the park.

The view of the Thames and the City of London from the top of Greenwich Park was spectacular, and the park was crowded with tourists enjoying the sunshine and the historical surroundings. But we did not linger as our second mission was to visit the multiple markets of Greenwich. This we did, and we were not disappointed. There were crafts, antiques, vintage, and a wonderful variety of vegetarian food, home made cakes, and other local produce. I could have shopped till I dropped, but I didn't. Instead, like true Yorkshire people, we kept our purses firmly closed. I almost treated myself to a £3.00 ride on the Carousel, but thought better of it. We did splash out on a glass of cider and a red wine in the Gypsy Moth pub just by way of strolling down memory lane, as that is where we celebrated after Joanne (our daughter) graduated from Greenwich University. It hadn't changed; still as busy, still as expensive - but that's London.

The Cutty Sark, still as resplendent as ever, towered above us as we looked on the riverboats that were coming and going up and down the Thames.

And the fun didn't stop there! Jo and I had a trip to the Tate Modern to see the Picasso Exhibition. It was fantastic, very inspirational, very mind blowing, and we both came away ready to create our own masterpieces.

 Hm! Make of it what you will, but I think I know what was on her mind.
 I got that loving feeling! There seemed to be a lot of armchairs and reclining nudes but every one shouted passion.
And we took in some other artists, Mark Rothsco, Marina Abromovich, among the thought provoking 'modern art.' It seems anything goes. I like her quote, I kind of know what she means.

And so to prove that anything goes, prepare to be amazed (or frightened to death). Yes it's Shed Woman.

And if you are still on your feet, thank you for scrolling down my blog to this point. I'm off now to do some more scary art. I have done my wife-y bit for the day, a scrumptious looking mushroom pie, which of course I can't eat, but I have a man who will.

It doesn't look too pretty but I bet it tastes good. Meanwhile I have roasted a load of vegetables pour moi.

June is not bursting out all over in Birdwell today, but it's very pleasant, and I've got the Bee Gees serenading me.

I hope you had an action packed Bank Holiday weekend and are able to relax, like me, this weekend. Home is a wonderful place to be.

Love and hugs till next time,
Jane x

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I had a little train trip off yesterday to meet up with three school friends, two of whom I had not seen in over 40 years. Would I recognise them? Would they recognise me? The meeting was warm, and sociable, and though all that time had passed, and our lives had gone in so many different directions, we fell back into our school days' friendship as though there had never been an interruption. It was a very special day, and I came home feeling emotionally charged, knowing something I was part of all those years ago, was still inside me.

The whole experience of our reunion, made me focus on my early childhood, and how I, it now seems, was brought up by a community, not just a family. That community was the population of Long Preston, in the Yorkshire Dales, where I was born. Now older, and with time to reflect, I realise that I owe that community so much. The people who supported the church and its annual parties with egg sandwiches, jelly, and blancmange, and buns and biscuits. The people who organised bus trips. The people who ran a beetle drive every week in the winter at the old scout hut. The people who ran the village sports day. The people who made coffee and cake, and held bazaars, and sales of work. And especially those organisers of the Boxing Night Dance, held at the Mechanics Institute, where I first met my lovely David. Then there was the library, and such things as the parade on Remembrance Sunday, and summer cricket on the green. And nobody complained when we kids went out on Mischief Night, knocking on doors, and tying up gates. And everybody put coppers in our tin when we did the rounds, carol singing before Christmas. 

Yes, I had wonderful parents, who provided for me, and nurtured me, but the total person I have become is certainly in some part a product of being brought up by the whole community of Long Preston, and, of course Hellifield, where David and I brought up our own children (with the help of that equally warm group of people).

So this is the poem that emerged from my day trip into the dales, if you were brought up in Long Preston you may feel the same way as I do.


Put me on a train and send me back
To that frame of fields, that buttercup world,
Where days were unnumbered, and ideas unfurled
In petals of time, that mattered the most.                                 

Send me back to the cricket pitch green,
To the ginnels, the gates, the graveyard ghosts,
To the butcher’s shop with its Sunday roasts,
And cleavers, and steals, and barrels of bones;

Let me hear once more a slop of churn,
And a clop of hooves on the cobblestones;
And the clink of milk outside curtained homes,
While the cockerel crowed in the morning light:

Place me on a wall and let me see
Beyond the moor, beyond the curlew’s flight,
The winding stream, the oxbow lakes, the sight
Of white steam on the valley’s iron tracks,

Sit me inside the Sunday school room
With its scrolls and rolls and lavender wax,
And its suffer the little children plaques,
And parties, plays, and magic lantern shows.

And outside gardens with high stonewalls,
Where lupins, and roses and tall trees grow,
And everywhere chimney pots, rooks and crows,
In a leafy landscape of long ago.

Stand me beside the old stone fountain,
With eyes on the concrete and cottage rows,
Let me breathe its scent, inhale head to toe,
Every connection that gave me such joy:

Open the door of the Institute,
The bands, the bazars, and the hoi palloi;
Coffee and biscuits for all to enjoy,
And medal-clad elders to show us the way:

Let me meet again your familiar face,
In that space we shared in communal play,
Let me recover the bliss of those days,

To keep in my heart for always, always.

Jane Sharp 2018

Well, there you have it. Thank you people of Long Preston 1951-1966. And thank you, Elsie, Kathleen and Elizabeth for such a wonderful reunion. 

And what other news do I have? Well, I have embarked on a fitness programme and have been doing a three mile walk every other day, plus a few press ups (not from floor level yet), and I am feeling well off it. I have almost finished another art masterpiece, and I actually think my cooking has improved (slightly). I'm looking forward to the Royal Wedding on Saturday, I'll be glued to the TV. and I may even indulge myself in a glass of bubbly to toast the handsome couple.

Talk to you again soon, dear reader, bye for now,
Love and hugs,
Jane x

Friday, May 4, 2018

Ey Up Tis Tour de Yorkshire

Oh them Sharp's they donned their boots
To watch those cycling men
They marched themselves up Blacker Hill
And marched back down again.

And when they were up, they were up
(to their necks in lycred thighs)
And when they were down, they were down
(in the Red Lion drinking cider)
And when they were only half way up
They were neither up nor down.

And a jolly time was had by all. The cyclists streamed by, undeterred by the gradient of the hill. A helicopter hovered overhead. A dozen or so police motorbikes sped by, lights flashing, sirens screeching, and like a single body, a mass of competitors, peddling like no tomorrow, whooshed by. Several support vehicles carrying spare bicycles followed on, then it was over. Over for us that is, the lovely lycra men had miles to go to reach the finishing line in Ilkley. David and I sat in the pub and watched the rest of the race on the television before walking home. I wouldn't mind a bike, but I prefer to walk up hills, and we seem to have done quite a bit of that lately. Where will it end?

Yeah! Feeling good!

So, that was my day. I hope yours was as enjoyable. I can recommend a walk through Worsbrough woods, the bluebells are stunning and there is a plethora of wildlife. It looks like it's going to be a sunny bank holiday weekend, so make the most of it. I shall be in the garden reading a few poems. By the way, I have completed a final edit of my book, Higgs Bottom, and we are hoping to have it up on Kindle before too long.

Talk again soon,
Love and hugs,
Jane x

Monday, March 5, 2018

After The Anaesthetic

I'm alive! Goodness, that was nasty, but six weeks on I have body and soul together and I'm surging ahead into 2018.
Meet Monty Bear, my little comforter in between the pain killers and sleep.

Well, I survived the anaesthetic, and I'm not going to go into the grizzly details of my operation, or the wretchedness of the month of February. Suffice it to say, the Doctors and nurses of Barnsley hospital were wonderful, my home carer (being David) was a saint, my family were there when I needed them, and Monty Bear was a comfort to me during my regression into a childlike state, while I switched off to allow my body to heal.

So, here we are into March. The 'Beast from the East' Siberian weather of the past week has moved on leaving patches of frozen snow here and there, but the garden is green again, and the streets are clear of any trace of slush. 

Birdwell Feb2018
What a good job I didn't have to go out in that awful weather, but now I'm well on the mend it's full steam ahead with a mission to get battle fit for the long walks that we are planning. First we shall complete the Barnsley Boundary Walk, only about 3 legs of that walk left, then we shall be heading to the coast for a bit of coast walking. It's all in the spirit of having fun. And in that same spirit David and I have booked a coach trip to Whitby. 

Yes, there's nothing like a near death experience for bringing to the fore the necessity for having fun. In this our 50th year of marriage, we shall be having plenty of just that. So watch this space for details of our adventures, oh, they won't be taking us to the Seychelles, or China, or the Bahamas, but   I promise we shall still be having a load of fun. 

In my quest for better health I have perfected the art of making cake without butter or margarine, that is without fat.
This is my recipe: 100 gram dark brown sugar,
2 mashed bananas, 1 small carton Alpro yoghurt, 1 egg (beat all that together) Add 200 gram gluten free S R flour, 1 teaspoon ginger, pinch salt. (Beat all the ingredients together and pour the batter into a loaf tin). Bake for approx 35/40 mins Fan 175.

Give it a go. Add your own spice. I sometimes put in dried dates soaked in water. It is also possible to use apple sauce instead of bananas. 

So, dear reader, join me in a year of fun from here on in. Talk again soon.

Love and hugs,
Jane x

Sunday, January 21, 2018

From the wonderful, wintery, wonderland of Birdwell! Yes, it's Jane Poppins enjoying the Yorkshire air.
I'm heading for morning coffee/tea in my new shed
We haven't quite got round to furnishing it yet, but so long as I get a desk and chair, I'll be happy. This picture was taken a couple of days ago when the shed was built by Garden Shed UK. Well done lads! You did good!

It's a few weeks since I last blogged, sorry about that, but I've had a few health problems. To cut a long story short, I am booked in to have my gall bladder removed this Saturday, in Barnsley Hospital. Of course I'm not overjoyed about having surgery, but I am so glad the doctors have found out what has been causing all my pain and sickness. I will be happy to get shut, and get on with my life. The results of my ultrasound scan said, "gall bladder packed with calculi," so, goodbye stones.
I certainly have things to look forward to, (apart from being able to function better), there is my lovely new shed to paint, inside and out, I want to create a peaceful writing space and artwork area, there is Valentino to practice, then there is the garden to sort out with David ready for our anniversary celebration in the summer. It will be our 50th Wedding Anniversary on August 3rd, so I think a bottle of bubbly is on the cards.
Meantime, I continue to write poetry in the hope that practice makes perfect. Talking of poetry, the Barnsley poet, Jethro, is compiling a CD of Barnsley Voices, and he paid me a visit to record on of my poems. (Watch this space). He's such a lovely guy, and energy to spare for the poetry scene. 
I'm going to miss my trip to Kent this month, but hey, it's cold outside. I'm optimistic about February, and of course the approaching spring.

So, keep warm, dear reader, and I'll talk to you on the other side of the anaesthetic.
Love and hugs,
Jane x

Tears From The Sun - The Story